Duluth bow hunt includes venison donation programBow hunters in Duluth’s city deer hunt will have the opportunity to donate deer to the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank under a new program this fall.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Bow hunters in Duluth’s city deer hunt will have the opportunity to donate deer to the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank under a new program this fall.
Although hunters have donated a lot of venison in past hunts, the new program will make it easier for hunters to donate and will provide a source of needed protein for area food shelves to distribute.
“We’re always looking for high-protein items to get to our nonprofit partners and people in need. We feel this is an important program for the people we’re trying to serve,” said Shaye Moris, executive director of Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank in Duluth.
Second Harvest supplies 35 food shelves across Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin.
Under the new program, hunters simply deliver their field-dressed deer to Gamache and Sons, an Esko venison processor registered with the state of Minnesota. So far, Gamache and Sons is the only state-registered processor participating in the program, Moris said. Gamache and Sons will be reimbursed by the state Department of Agriculture for its processing.
Second Harvest also will reimburse hunters $15, the cost of a bonus antlerless permit, for each deer they donate, Moris said. The food bank has secured an anonymous sponsor to pay for that reimbursement, she said.
In the Duluth deer hunt, hunters can take up to five deer. Nearly half the participating hunters take at least two deer, said Kevin Scharnberg, the city’s coordinator for the hunt. Last year, 377 hunters registered for the Duluth city deer hunt, and 587 deer were taken during the hunt.
“All or part of 62 percent of harvested deer were donated last year, to food shelves or friends or whatever,” Scharnberg said. “But we’re trying to get rid of whole deer if we can.”
Hunters must shoot one antlerless deer in the city hunt before taking a buck, so most hunters shoot a doe early in the season. That way, they’re eligible to take a buck as soon as the opportunity arises. But many hunters may not be eager to shoot a second or third antlerless deer early in the season, Scharnberg said. Knowing they can now donate those antlerless deer may encourage them to shoot more, he said.
“I think it’s ideal for the hunters,” Scharnberg said. “They can shoot more deer early in the season instead of shooting that first doe and sitting back.”
The idea for city hunters to partner with Second Harvest originated with Duluth city attorney Gunnar Johnson, a deer hunter but not a participant in the city hunt.
“The bottom line is, we want to get the deer out of Duluth,” Johnson said, “to keep them from eating people’s gardens and getting hit in the streets. I thought there could be a win-win here. Deer hunters like to hunt deer, but it’s hard to use five deer. They might not need another deer in the freezer. I know there’s a great need at CHUM and Damiano. There are people who are hungry. It made sense to put those two together.”
City councilor Linda Krug helped move the idea along, Johnson said, although City Council approval wasn’t required to initiate the program.
This year’s hunt starts Sept. 15 and continues through Dec. 31.